Richard John KNIGHT MM

KNIGHT, Richard John

Service Number: 6840
Enlisted: 1 March 1916, 19th Reinforcements. Originally enlisted in the 38th battalion (the Bendigo Battalion) Departure with that battalion delayed due to illness in camp.
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 23rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Goornong, Victoria, Australia, date not yet discovered
Home Town: Bendigo, Greater Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Farm Labourer
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World War 1 Service

1 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 6840, 21st Infantry Battalion, 19th Reinforcements. Originally enlisted in the 38th battalion (the Bendigo Battalion) Departure with that battalion delayed due to illness in camp.
11 May 1917: Involvement Private, SN 6840, 23rd Infantry Battalion
11 May 1917: Embarked Private, SN 6840, 23rd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Melbourne
28 Aug 1918: Honoured Military Medal, Mont St Quentin / Peronne, Recommendation date: 9th and 13th September 1918. 'During the assault on a hostile trench system West of MEREAUCOURT WOOD, West of PERONNE, on 28th August 1918, this soldier displayed great courage and coolness. It was noticed that some of the enemy were escaping from the farther end of a succession of dugouts and covered-in trenches at a distance of about fifty yards in front of his Platoon's advance. Immediately he saw this, Private Knight jumped up out of the trench under heavy close machine gun fire and ran to a point ahead of the dugouts, thus preventing the further escape of the enemy. He was responsible for rounding up many prisoners under heavy sniping fire.' Source: Commonwealth of Australia Gazette,10 October 1919 on page 1497 at position 25

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Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

Richard John KNIGHT

Military Medal

Recommendation:-

'During the assault on a hostile trench system West of MEREAUCOURT WOOD, West of PERONNE, on 28th August 1918, this soldier displayed great courage and coolness. It was noticed that some of the enemy were escaping from the farther end of a succession of dugouts and covered-in trenches at a distance of about fifty yards in front of his Platoon's advance. Immediately he saw this, Private Knight jumped up out of the trench under heavy close machine gun fire and ran to a point ahead of the dugouts, thus preventing the further escape of the enemy. He was responsible for rounding up many prisoners under heavy sniping fire.'
Recommendation date: "9 and 13 September 1918

Source: Commonwealth of Australia Gazette,10 October 1919 on page 1497 at position 25

The Bendigo Advertiser reported daily the recruitment outcomes of the prior day. On March 2, 1916: -                                             BENDIGO DEPOT.                                                                     Thirteen Passed Yesterday. Of the 13 candidates examined by the doctor at the Bendigo recruiting depot at the Town Hall yesterday 13 passed and five were rejected. One of 13 who passed was Richard John Knight, farm labourer of Huntley.[1]

Although Richard enlisted on March 1st, 1916, he did not embark for Europe until mid May 1917. Originally listed with the 38th Battalion (the Bendigo Battalion), which sailed away in June 1916, Richard’s delay in leaving for the front may be put down to an outbreak of Meningitis in May 1916 and his hospitalisation.

Viewed as an epidemic those assessed as 'not affected' were immediately removed to the Campbellfield camp on June 5. [2]  Although Military Authorities wanted to limit the news of such an outbreak, the Bendigo Advertiser reported on the Health of the Troops on June 14 listing 5 soldiers who were admitted to hospital the prior day. One of these was R. J knight. [3]

Being left behind in Bendigo had some upside as Richard was married to Alma Louise and their house in Huntly was close to the Bendigo Camp when he was discharged from hospital.

Richard would eventually reach France in December 1917. He would serve with his battalion through most of 1918 with only two bouts of illness that required hospitalisation behind the lines.

The 21st battalion would be heavily involved in blunting the German spring offensive of April 1918, and participated in the battles that would mark the beginning of Germany's defeat, Hamel, Amiens and Mont St. Quentin.

Like many Australian battalions, the 21st could barely muster a company after the 1918 offensive. It was ordered to disband and reinforce its sister battalions. In response, the men of the 21st mutinied on 25 September 1918. By the end of that day, the order was withdrawn, and the battalion fought its last battle at Montbrehain on 5 October. The following day it became the last Australian battalion to withdraw from active operations on the Western Front. The 21st Battalion was disbanded on 13 October 1918. 

No photo identified for Richard John Knight as yet.

SERVICE DETAILS:  

Regimental No: 6840

Place of birth: Goornong Victoria

Religion: Church of England

Occupation: Farm labourer

Address: Huntly via Bendigo

Marital status: Married

Age at enlistment:28

Next of kin: Wife, Mrs Alma Louisa Knight, Huntly via Bendigo,

Enlistment date: 1 March 1916

Unit name: 21st Battalion, 19th Reinforcement, 24th Battalion

Embarked: HMAT A11 Ascanius on 11 May 1917

Final Rank: Private

Fate Returned to Australia 17/08/1919

 

 

 

MEREAUCOURT WOOD, West of PERONNE

August 29, 1918 - German resistance begins to stiffen around Clery, 3 kilometres north west of Peronne.

General Monash's objective was to render the line of the Somme River useless to the Germans as a defensive position and hasten their retreat to the Hindenburg Line. To achieve this called for an attack on the key position of the whole line of defence, on a hill called Mont St Quentin. Monash knew that his troops were under strength and badly in need of rest, but by now he considered them "invincible".

‘This battle (Mont St Quentin) represented the culminating point of the Australian Corps on the Western Front.  A deliberate Corps attack, it was executed with amazing speed and alacrity.  The Battle procedure involved to adjust the initial plan and then to manoeuvre the three key Divisions into position across a major terrain obstacle and in the final stages under observation and fire from the enemy is an undertaking of a scale that the Australian Army has not done before or since’.[4]

[1] Bendigo Advertiser, March 2, 1916  Page 6
[2] The History of 38th Battalion A.I.F by Eric Fairey: Published by Cambridge Press 1920. Page 2
[3] Bendigo Advertiser, June 14 1916  Page 5. HEALTH OF THE TROOPS.                                                                                       [4] Virtual War memorial Australia website https://vwma.org.au/explore/campaigns/15

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